Our beliefs are our truths. They are the way things are. They are “facts,” often taken for granted. Much like those truths in the Declaration of Independence, we hold our truths to be “self-evident.” They are unquestioned. They are what we believe. They are Truth (with a capital T).
But, are they really truth everlasting? Are they really facts? Are they the way things are, to remain unquestioned? Or are they open to examination?
Our beliefs are among our strongest anchors. I certainly wouldn’t recommend throwing them to the wind, cutting ourselves lose from them without careful reflection. But, when you are facing change, when you are moving from a past into a future in an intentional way, I do encourage you to ask the question, How well are my beliefs serving me?
It isn’t necessary to ask of every belief. But it is worth asking of those that may, in fact, not be serving you well. Here is a short list of some of the beliefs that I have found clients holding that were preventing them from moving forward successfully with their changes.
- I can do it all.
- I can’t say no.
- I’m no good with technology (or languages, or math, or…).
- I can do this in X time (while always underestimating by magnitudes).
- I’m no good at selling.
- I’m too shy to network.
- I have too many years invested to change now.
- By my very nature I’m a workaholic.
- I can’t fail.
- I never succeed.
- I would have to start all over again, and I’m not in a position to do that.
- They need to change; I don’t.
- I know what I am doing; I don’t need any help.
It’s easy to see how each of these beliefs could work against successfully making a major change.
So what do you do if you have a belief (or beliefs) that are not serving you well? The first question you have to ask yourself is whether the belief or the change that it is preventing is more important. If you can’t have both X (your belief) and Y (your successful change), which are you going to let go of?
If the answer is that you are going to let go of the change, acknowledge to yourself that this is a choice you are making, and move on. The change may have been a bad idea anyway…or perhaps it was a good idea. If it is essential, you aren’t going to let it go.
If your decision is that you need to move forward with the change, you are going to have to confront your belief…to change it, or to let it go completely. This takes courage, and it takes discipline. it takes learning new ways of seeing things and thinking about them; it takes new ways of acting. It takes falling down, and getting back up again. It is best accomplished with the support of others. (None of us can do everything by ourselves.) Perhaps it is a coach, a mentor, family members, co-workers, or friends. Find someone–or someones–who have a commitment to your success, and recruit them to cheer you on, to lift you up, to stand by you, to hold you accountable…and to call you out when you let up.
It’s likely you will want to let up. Challenging beliefs is not for the faint at heart. You have every right to change your decision; it will lead to a different result, but that is your call. There is a price to pay for challenging our beliefs, and a price to pay for standing by them. Just don’t pay the price blindly. Ask, and answer, the question, How well are my beliefs serving me?
What beliefs have you had to challenge to move forward with an important change? What helped you move through the challenge successfully? What blocked you? Comment below.